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Hoping to buy a bike this summer? Don’t count on it, warns Boulder-based frame builder and former U.S. national team rider Lennard Zinn. Pandemic-induced factory closures, a clogged supply chain, and increased consumer demand have combined to create a global bike shortage that shows no signs of abating. That’s why we asked Zinn, who literally wrote the books on bike repair (his Zinn and the Art of Bike Maintenance guides cover everything from mountain to road to triathlon rides), for tips on how to upgrade your old two-wheeler to make it feel like new again.
If you’re ready for clip-ins, which are more common for road cyclists but are also beneficial to mountain bikers, you’ll reap significant gains. “With a flat pedal, you can only push down,” Zinn says, whereas clip-ins enable you to “pull back, pull up, and push forward” for more power. Pricing starts at $60.
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Upgrade: Local shops, such as University Bicycles in Boulder, will outfit you with the best pedals for your specific riding style; Shimano, Look, and Crankbrothers are all Zinn-approved brands.
Over more than four decades in the bike industry, Zinn has heard one complaint rear up more than any other: “Their butts hurt.” That’s because stock saddles on bikes don’t fit their perinea. Prices range from $50 to $200.
Upgrade: Specialized brand dealers, such as Wheat Ridge Cyclery, receive a gadget called (unofficially) the “ass-o-meter.” Plop your behind down, and the tool guides you toward the best saddle for your body, based on the width of your sit bones and personal riding style.
Making the transition to tubeless (adding a latex-based sealant to the tire to eliminate the inner tube) greatly reduces the chances of a puncture-caused flat, because the sealant plugs the hole. Prices range from $50 to $200.
Upgrade: Zinn’s guides provide details about how to install tubeless tires, and Colorado-based Goat Head Bike Co sells an eco-friendly sealant for only $5. But, honestly, the transition can be a real pain in the perineum; novices should let professional mechanics handle this one.
A personalized bike fit—during which a specialist adjusts multiple components of your ride, such as handlebar height and stem length—will not only make for more enjoyable outings, but it will also help prevent back, knee, and forearm issues from materializing. Prices range from $250 to $500.
Upgrade: Retül, which started 15 years ago in Boulder and now has studios around the world, begins with a physical assessment and then uses 3D technology to measure your on-bike movements down to the millimeter.